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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Students - The Missing Puzzle Piece

Many teachers find themselves drowning in the inescapable waters of change. They struggle to keep afloat by attempting small bits of new innovation or re-packaging old bits of confident instruction. They scream out at change and technology as a harbinger of finality and morality to their teaching careers and lives. They sincerely need help and support.

The education industry is slowly finding itself. Its merits and morals are becoming more built on creativity, critical thought, and expressiveness. Those teachers and leaders that have taken on this new challenge are reaping the rewards of true 'student-centered' learning. Their classrooms are places for talk; places for questioning; places for discovery. Students don't sit in their chairs - they merely start in their chairs.

Training teachers to believe they are experts of knowledge is counter-productive. This inherently establishes a hierarchy between pupil and teacher. Even the most brilliant teachers are missing the one important piece of the educational puzzle until they enter the classroom....the students.

Let's compare this profession with that of doctors...

Any newly trained doctor has made it through the training and medical knowledge testing to have a solid starting point. However, how they use their knowledge and bedside manner is entirely dependent on the situation they face. All the knowledge in the world is useless, if you can't identify how it all fits together to find a solution.

Similarly, teachers start with curricular knowledge and the best intentions. But, until you walk into your classroom and meet your students - you should have no idea how to move forward in THEIR learning. It is helpful to have a path or purposeful planning, but if there is no chance that you will alter or modify it - it truly is meaningless.

We do teach STUDENTS - not curriculum. Our lasting effects on our students are not measured by CASI or monitored by report card marks. We cultivate the atmosphere we work in everyday through our choices and confidence. What that looks like and what you will do with it is up to you. But don't cower from change and progress - recognize its purpose and learn from it. Those around you will support you in your quest and those in need will grow from your journey (even if vicariously until the time is right).


Anonymous said...

Hey Neil!

I came across your blog doing some research for my ETFO course. Yes, I agree that many teachers find themselves drowning in the waters of change. Yes, there are some teachers who are attempting small bits of new innovation. Yes, many are finding the new technologies a challenge, and yes, they need help and support. So my big question is what is being done to help these drowning teachers? Just throwing a few PD sessions at teachers & expecting them all to buy in, or as you stated "repackage old bits" to meet the new strategies and expectations, is difficult without continuous support. Where do we get the time to do this? Who will do this for us? Does the Ministry need to address this issue? What about our collective bargaining team?

I'll pass your blog onto my classmates.


Neil Finney said...

Hi Jill,

Thanks for your great questions and interaction with this topic. I'd have so many, and yet, so few answers. The best thing possible would be for the driving change to come from the students somehow. Teaching must mirror today's great issues and needs who better to decide that than the students and their families. They are the "customers"'after all. It's difficult to challenge the history and nature of something - but in this case it really does appear to be the most logical step in meeting the needs of the 21st learner and their place in our future society. Thanks for passing on this blog link to your students - I would welcome any comments or insights they might have.


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